Natural waxes may open another door to replacing trans fats without increasing saturated fats. A study published online in March by the Journal of Food Science described how US Department of Agriculture researchers worked with organogels — liquid vegetable oils structured with natural waxes — to replace margarine in cookie formulations.

Materials tested were natural waxes from sunflower, rice bran, candelilla and beeswax in preparations of olive, soybean and flaxseed oils. Choice of wax and oil significantly affected firmness and melting behavior. Several organogels produced properties in cookies similar to those made with commercial margarines.

Waxes were also studied as a novel way to cut saturated fats in baked goods, according to work reported by Cargill researchers at the American Oil Chemists’ Society meeting this year. As fat cools, it forms crystals. The scientists combined vegetable waxes and monoglycerides with canola oil and palm stearin and found they could influence the size, shape and speed of crystallization. The resulting fat system lowered saturated fat levels while maintaining critical fat structures.